Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) have been coronated the champions of the Indian Super League (ISL) first edition. The other teams in the ISL will have to sweat it out to take that title away from the defending champions in the second edition of the star-studded league.
The journey to the final of the ISL 2014 began smoothly for Atletico de Kolkata when they took on Mumbai City FC at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata. Fikru Teferra, Borja Fernandez and skipper Luis Garcia found the back of the net way too easily, thereby beginning their campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over their opponents.
The Sourav Ganguly co-owned franchise remained undefeated for the first seven matches and also could not be displaced by the other teams from the top of the points table.
FC Pune City came down to Kolkata and handed the home side their first defeat. They suffered a 1-3 loss at their own backyard and post that loss, there was a sudden downfall. Atletico de Kolkata head coach Antonio Habas became furious with his side's performance. They were drawing or losing games one after the other. A place in the semi-final looked unsure.
Their match against FC Goa was very crucial. They needed a draw or a win to make it to the semi's. One might feel they were lucky enough to have drawn that game against FC Goa and made it to the knockout stages of the ISL 2014.
They faced FC Goa yet another time in the all-important semi-finals. The deadlock could not be broken after 180 minutes of the two legs. At the end of the penalty shootout, team co-owner Ganguly had all the right reasons to rejoice as his side won the contest 4-2 in the shootout and crawled into the big final.
They had to face the upbeat Kerala Blasters in the final of the ISL 2014. Everyone knew that it would not have been an easy game for either of the sides. Skipper Garcia almost carried the baton of Atletico de Kolkata till the final of the league and all the fans chanted his names at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, where the final was being held.
Blasters took control of the game right from the start and the number of counter attacks looked threatening. Blasters's striker Michael Chopra missed a couple of sitters but ATK goalkeeper Edel Bete made a couple of stunning saves as well.
Then came the moment in the stoppage time. A corner from Borja Fernandez and a wonderfully guided header in the bottom left corner of the net from Mohammed Rafique sealed it for Atletico de Kolkata. That left the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side in despair and agony as Atletico de Kolkata lifted the trophy in style. One might believe that they were lucky enough to have survived the final scare but all that matters at the end of the day is the result.
Atletico de Kolkata will be looking to make things difficult for other teams in ISL 2015. They have had a good pre-season in Spain and are all set to take on their opponents. The defending champions will be playing the opening game of the ISL 2015 against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on 3 October.